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1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:51 pm UTC
by funnyav
Image

Alt text: "You're saying that the responsibility for avoiding miscommunication lies entirely with the listener, not the speaker, which explains why you haven't been able to convince anyone to help you down from that wall."

What's the relation to Humpty Dumpty here?

Edit: Seems to be a reference to Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There - full text on Gutenberg by Lewis Carroll.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:57 pm UTC
by flicky1991
funnyav wrote:What's the relation to Humpty Dumpty here?
The first line is a quote from Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass (which would make the girl Alice).

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:59 pm UTC
by Moose Anus
How does he reach the pedals?

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:08 pm UTC
by Showsni
Well, at least he pays the words to mean whatever he wants them to.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:32 pm UTC
by rmsgrey
Showsni wrote:Well, at least he pays the words to mean whatever he wants them to.

But what does he pay them?

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:43 pm UTC
by Pfhorrest
I always took Humpty's assertion to be refuting the opposite kind of absurdity: the way that a listener might take something the speaker said to mean something that the speaker didn't mean, and then (over the speaker's protests trying to clarify) insist that the speaker said that awful thing (when interpreted the way the the listener did) so they must mean it too.

As seen frequently in ideological debates, where words have very different meanings to different sides, e.g. one person says they want socialism (meaning a widely distributed ownership of the essential means of production), but the other person hears them clamoring for socialism (meaning the global enslavement of humanity to an all-powerful central state), and no manner of attempt from the first person to clarify that that's not what they mean by "socialism" will help, they said they wanted it and to the listener it's too late to take it back (that is, to take back the meaning that the listener got on their first impression). See also atheism, anarchism, etc.

I took Humpty as saying "No, you don't get to tell me what I meant. I get now that you thought I meant one thing, but I'm telling you now that I meant something else, and you don't get to go on acting like I meant what you first thought I did."

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:48 pm UTC
by Dr34m(4+(h3r
The egg is saying that when he uses a word, it means what he wants it to mean, but the listener is hearing, when I hear a word, it means what I want it to mean. I'm not sure whether this is irony or not, but it's amusing.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:54 pm UTC
by jc
rmsgrey wrote:
Showsni wrote:Well, at least he pays the words to mean whatever he wants them to.

But what does he pay them?

Well, if he's consistent, he'd pay in money that he printed himself, and would insist that it was worth whatever he says it's worth. That'd probably work with money about as well as it works with language, since they're both about who determines the value of an abstract quality (meaning:words :: value:money).

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:25 pm UTC
by Reka
I AM GROOT!

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:32 pm UTC
by Pfhorrest
Reka wrote:I AM GROOT!

Yeah I know it is, but where the hell are we gonna find rubber pants at this time of night?

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:37 pm UTC
by Apeiron
Hmm. What will the army of descriptivists here feel about this comic?

We think in language.
We retrieve information from the past through language.
We transmit information to the future in language.
We communicate ideas, feelings and information in the present through language.

Therefore language is too important to be left to the whimsy of its least competent users. Furthermore, not all change can be called evolution. Evolution implies improvement.

We have different words because they have different meanings. When we erode the distinctiveness of a word by misusing it we lose the ability to say what that word used to mean. Jealousy, for instance, had its distinctiveness from envy beaten out of it by the lazy and ignorant. People say VR when they mean 360 video merely because VR and 360 video came into the public conversation about the same time. They don't know the difference between drone, robots and vehicles. Losing thou meant having to invent y'all.

Then there's the matter of definition warping as propaganda. Nazi now means "anyone who disagrees with me". Eventually calling someone a Nazi is going to be as meaningless as calling them a jerk. What will we call real Nazis then?

It is the speaker's responsibility to convey what they mean, not listener's to unravel the speaker's intent.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:13 pm UTC
by azule
I had that same thought as the comic, that if one of the words could have special meaning then all could. I can't prove it, of course.

flicky1991 wrote:
funnyav wrote:What's the relation to Humpty Dumpty here?
The first line is a quote from Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass (which would make the girl Alice).

It wouldn't make the girl Alice....but it could. I'd say that since she isn't following the script, since she is acting different than Alice would, that it's another visitor to Wonderland. It's possible. Maybe it's Alice's granddaughter. Or, it's an xkcd character.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:39 pm UTC
by gmalivuk
Apeiron wrote:Furthermore, not all change can be called evolution. Evolution implies improvement.
No, it doesn't.

But I shouldn't be surprised that you know as little about evolution as you do about language.

We have different words because they have different meanings. When we erode the distinctiveness of a word by misusing it we lose the ability to say what that word used to mean. Jealousy, for instance, had its distinctiveness from envy beaten out of it by the lazy and ignorant. People say VR when they mean 360 video merely because VR and 360 video came into the public conversation about the same time. They don't know the difference between drone, robots and vehicles. Losing thou meant having to invent y'all.
Yes, language changes and we somehow still manage to communicate, sometimes by using new words to fill emptied niches. Another way language change is a kind of evolution.

Then there's the matter of definition warping as propaganda. Nazi now means "anyone who disagrees with me". Eventually calling someone a Nazi is going to be as meaningless as calling them a jerk. What will we call real Nazis then?
We call them Nazis now because that's what they are. People arguing for the elimination of a race or other "undesirables" are not simply people I disagree with, they are Nazis.

Even if they choose to call themselves alt-right, a real example of changing labels as propaganda.

It is the speaker's responsibility to convey what they mean, not listener's to unravel the speaker's intent.
Then why do you take it upon yourself to interpret other people's use of the word Nazi?

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:57 pm UTC
by Envelope Generator
I gav a guy all my stuff in a similar incident once.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:41 pm UTC
by pkcommando
Envelope Generator wrote:I gav a guy all my stuff in a similar incident once.

Talk like that about my mother one more time. I. dare. you.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:12 pm UTC
by Eutychus
Blunt frippers intantly to pointed bdeluroid. Pungent. Cost.

(Qui Verbum Dei contempserunt, eis auferetur etiam verbum hominis)

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:20 pm UTC
by sotanaht
Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:The egg is saying that when he uses a word, it means what he wants it to mean, but the listener is hearing, when I hear a word, it means what I want it to mean. I'm not sure whether this is irony or not, but it's amusing.


If a word means whatever you want it to mean, then it could theoretically mean anything. Without a set-in-stone meaning, there's no clear way to express to the listener what you wanted it to mean in the first place. If both "yes" and "no" are equally valid definitions for the word "no", how do you explain to the listener which one you are choosing, especially when every other word you use to explain with is equally ambiguous and in need of explanation?

Effectively, in order to have a meaningful exchange, there must be a commonly (between both parties) accepted source of meaning, which implies a third party source. For conversation to work words must mean neither what the speaker wants nor what the listener wants, but what the dictionary says.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:27 pm UTC
by Heimhenge
azule wrote:I had that same thought as the comic, that if one of the words could have special meaning then all could. I can't prove it, of course.

flicky1991 wrote:
funnyav wrote:What's the relation to Humpty Dumpty here?
The first line is a quote from Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass (which would make the girl Alice).

It wouldn't make the girl Alice....but it could. I'd say that since she isn't following the script, since she is acting different than Alice would, that it's another visitor to Wonderland. It's possible. Maybe it's Alice's granddaughter. Or, it's an xkcd character.


Weird XKCD character. I got uncanny valley feelings when first seeing Mr. Egg. He's got a face! He's apparently wearing pants, unlike XKCDs ... thought it might be a crack but pretty sure it's pants. Or maybe the bottom of his shirt? I see sleeves. He's got feet/shoes/whatever at the end of his legs. And he seems to have a 3D body form. But I guess it'd be kinda tough to draw a stick figure egg.

And I agree with you that the real Alice would never follow that script. Not clever enough. Now if she had spent more time with the caterpillar ... or did he come after Humpty?

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:36 pm UTC
by BradyR
I seriously thought this comic was about "Humpty Trumpty".

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:02 pm UTC
by Soupspoon
I'm sure the girl (who does bear some resemblance to John Tenniel's orginal Alician archetype - albeit through the prism of the Randallian stick-figure) isn't making her first xkcd appearance. But so far my attempts to find her prior appearance(s) have been fruitless.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:05 pm UTC
by xtifr
sotanaht wrote:Effectively, in order to have a meaningful exchange, there must be a commonly (between both parties) accepted source of meaning, which implies a third party source. For conversation to work words must mean neither what the speaker wants nor what the listener wants, but what the dictionary says.


So communication was impossible before the 17th c.? :mrgreen:

The dictionary does not define words so much as attempt to document the existing meanings of words. You've got cause and effect reversed.

The reason communication works is because we're social critters who have evolved complex noise-making capabilities and worked out interesting ways to use them. Agreeing on the meanings of words is one of those nifty tricks we've come up with. There's nothing magical about it, and it doesn't require any "god of the gaps"-like arguments to work. It works because it's useful for us, so we (mostly) go along with it.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 12:04 am UTC
by Pfhorrest
sotanaht wrote:Effectively, in order to have a meaningful exchange, there must be a commonly (between both parties) accepted source of meaning, which implies a third party source.

Like with scientific questions, that third-party source is not another person, but the world around you.

If Alice and Bob disagree on a fact, they don't need High Priest Charlie to settle the dispute, because they can both look at the same world and figure out what the fact is together.

Similarly (though not perfectly analogous), if Alice consistently produces sign X in some relation to a given phenomenon, Bob can figure out that when Alice says X, she means that phenomenon. He can then also say X to signal that phenomenon to Alice, and voila, the start of language.

(I do agree with your general point about shifting meaning being generally bad though, because it breaks the language that already existed and requires people do go back to this figure-out-what-people-mean-by-things stage. But we do have that stage to fall back on, which is why we can continually recover from the ongoing destruction of the existing language, because we made it up in the first place and we can make more when we have to. It just sucks that we have to again when we already had a perfectly good one until someone broke it.)

It's true that in a completely verbal exchange wholly divorced from life in the real world, there's no way to sort out real meaning (syntax maybe, but not semantics), but that's because meaning comes from reference to the world. (That, incidentally, is why Searle's Chinese Room fails to actually understand Chinese. It doesn't disprove functionalism, because the room can't do a huge class of functions that real Chinese speakers can: things like, given a photo of a duck on a lake, answer "what kind of bird is on the water?" It can tell you that a lake is a body of water and a duck is a kind of bird, but it can't look for birds when prompted and return "I found one, and it's a duck").

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 12:26 am UTC
by ucim
sotanaht wrote:...accepted source of meaning, which implies a third party source.
If you mean an authoritative entity, no. If you mean anything external to the two of them, then yes; in this case it's the history of the usage of the words as jointly remembered by the two parties. When that is not sufficient, different words can be used, or a written record of the history of usage can be consulted. But it's the history of usage, not the authority, that will settle the point.
Pfhorrest wrote:It just sucks that we have to again when we already had a perfectly good one until someone broke it.
But nobody "broke" it. The reasons that words get used for new concepts includes the very fact that the word is being newly used this way. Words mean more than what they mean.

Jose

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:16 am UTC
by qvxb
BradyR wrote:I seriously thought this comic was about "Humpty Trumpty".

No, his words mean whatever his supporters think they mean. An appropriate quote for HT would be "I am POTUS and you are not, Hillary and Bernie." Or "Want my stuff? Sign this pre-nup. I'll be looking for number four soon."

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:24 am UTC
by da Doctah
Heimhenge wrote:I got uncanny valley feelings when first seeing Mr. Egg. He's got a face! He's apparently wearing pants, unlike XKCDs ... thought it might be a crack but pretty sure it's pants. Or maybe the bottom of his shirt? I see sleeves. He's got feet/shoes/whatever at the end of his legs. And he seems to have a 3D body form. But I guess it'd be kinda tough to draw a stick figure egg.


Recall that Alice in the original spends some time musing whether what Humpty is wearing should be considered a belt or a cravat, since it could with equal ease be seen to be around his neck or his waist.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:42 am UTC
by gd1
Pfhorrest wrote:
Reka wrote:I AM GROOT!

Yeah I know it is, but where the hell are we gonna find rubber pants at this time of night?


Craigslist. It's worth a shot.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 5:24 am UTC
by DavesNotHere
Unusually for this forum (really, not being sarcastic, most comments get what the comic says)
most of you are over-thinking this.

Humpty says:
"When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean."

He means just that, nothing more nor less. (Apologies for the recursion.)
If he says
"The sky is blue."
he can mean
"The sky is plaid."
or
"The sky is down."
or
"My pants are on fire."
or
"Look over there - shiny object!"
or
"These aren't the droids you're looking for."

There's no restrictions.
If this doesn't have any connection to current events for you then you can return to whatever cave you've been hiding in.
(A lot of us wish we could join you there!)

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:55 am UTC
by funnyav
xtifr's signature wrote:"[T]he author has followed the usual practice of contemporary books on graph theory, namely to use words that are similar but not identical to the terms used in other books on graph theory."
-- Donald Knuth, The Art of Computer Programming, Vol I, 3rd ed.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:28 am UTC
by leeharveyosmond
Yes, this is Megan as Alice.
But while Alice In Wonderland is a standard reference for all sorts of stuff, cartooning, comedy, satire, SciFi, the explanation of mathematics and science to the public, all stuff exactly in Randall's ballpark, 'Alice' is somewhere he usually never ever goes.

(Do please seek out "The Annotated Alice" by the late Martin Gardner https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Gardner)

And this cartoon is not a paean to one's rediscovered youth. Getting into an argument with Megan because you're being an asshole and you said something that meant something completely different to her than what it meant to you, and now she's taking all your stuff ... ouch.

So: Randall never does 'Alice' and people that do do 'Alice' go for 'whimsy' rather than 'blunt'. Weird

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:50 am UTC
by chrisjwmartin
funnyav wrote:Image

Yep, that sounds like a conversation with a woman.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:39 am UTC
by gmalivuk
chrisjwmartin wrote:
funnyav wrote:Image

Yep, that sounds like a conversation with a woman.

Ha! Ha! Sexism is so clever and original!

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:27 pm UTC
by Tub
chrisjwmartin wrote:Yep, that sounds like a conversation with a woman.

What makes you think the egg is a woman?

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 5:06 pm UTC
by Soupspoon
Egg=woman, tadpole=man. That's what I was taught at school. (And then they fired me for "not even being properly qualified to be a headteacher" and "drinking far too much" and "somehow wedging my car in the science-block's roof". The cruel taunts I got, after that. Dinnerladies can be so hurtful, at times...)

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:45 pm UTC
by chrisjwmartin
gmalivuk wrote:
chrisjwmartin wrote:
funnyav wrote:Image

Yep, that sounds like a conversation with a woman.

Ha! Ha! Sexism is so clever and original!

It was the first such comment on the thread, so yes, actually it must have been pretty original. Thank you for your compliment.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:16 pm UTC
by gmalivuk
chrisjwmartin wrote:It was the first such comment on the thread, so yes, actually it must have been pretty original.

No, that just suggests that earlier posters are better people than you.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:11 pm UTC
by morriswalters
gmalivuk wrote:
chrisjwmartin wrote:Yep, that sounds like a conversation with a woman.

Ha! Ha! Sexism is so clever and original!
Putting aside the trollish nature of the response, sexual stereotypes are so powerful, you didn't bother to ask him how he knew the stick figure was a girl? That is the nature of the type of communication that Randall pointed out. You both shared an unspoken agreement that the stick figure was a girl because of her hair.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:17 pm UTC
by Flumble
chrisjwmartin wrote:It was the first such comment on the thread

Not just that, sexism jokes (even ones as bad as yours) are a rare sight on the whole forum. And looking at gmalivuk's reactions, I can imagine why.


morriswalters wrote:Putting aside the trollish nature of the response, sexual stereotypes are so powerful, you didn't bother to ask him how he knew the stick figure was a girl?

I take it you interpreted chris' joke as self-depreciating? (namely him being the egg and the long-haired one being a woman) Otherwise, how do you get to the assumption that chris is thinking the stick figure is a girl?

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:31 pm UTC
by peterdavidcarter
gmalivuk wrote:
chrisjwmartin wrote:It was the first such comment on the thread, so yes, actually it must have been pretty original.

No, that just suggests that earlier posters are better people than you.


I don't know why, but I find this person less funny than Ron Maimon, who I find very amusing, but technically the linguistics and argumentative style are comparative. Now I know this *does* have something to do with the words used, but also the context and the "narrativization of language"...?

Perhaps because his profile picture is a giant egg I conceptualise Ron Maimon as being an ironic take on a Fedora meme, and that it was potentially lack of understanding of this fact and/or lack of understanding about the proper way to deal with irony within a BN;BR environment that led to the very long-term suspension of a person who, despite being plausibly knowledgeable about Physics and certain other political and pseudo-historical subjects (I don't have the knowledge myself to say -- though I quibble with many of his self-said words on computer programming, if he meant them seriously...), I wonder sometimes if people misunderstand the reasoning behind the tone taken in the arguments put forward by that man, but again, it may just be that I am prejudiced into thinking Humpty is actually being self-involved, or conversely, a combination of ironically wise and wisely ironic.

Or perhaps we're all Beholders?

In any sense, though, I do wonder how this new Alice, in this new Through the Looking Glass, managed to move so quickly between narrative streams and if she feels it beneficial to any that she did? (Could she just steal all his stuff anyway, or perhaps that's an offense in the new Queen of Hearts' kingdom? But it's permissible to assign any meaning to words once transposed to the QoHs' new court...? That would have all sorts of odd legal ramifications...). Has she read any critical theory: https://xkcd.com/451/?

Or Tumblr?

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:54 pm UTC
by peterdavidcarter
I note here that in saying "neither more nor less" the evocation is of Communism, which leads new Alice to believe our new Humpty is giving her his stuff (though why she initially disincludes his car in this seems to have been an issue of her not being quite so adept linguistically as new Humpty, since it appears now that perhaps she owns a car and nothing else?). When he says "No!" her faith in Eggmanity seemed to lead to her believing that this Great Rounded Communist must also be giving her his car, since she is too nice to believe he would be denying her anything after such a great Communist speech, which was clearly disconnected from the previous statement by the full stop, even if a paragraph break might have been more appropriate (he never said paragraph breaks meant exactly what he meant them to mean, did he?).

And on this point, Your Honour, the defence rests, for the moment. Though there is, of course, the issue of establishing it was reasonable to believe new Alice believed this particular idiomatic interpretation, and for this I call my second witness (if you'll pardon a metaphor here), which is: the Tumblr blog site.

Re: 1860: "Communicating"

Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 7:22 pm UTC
by morriswalters
Flumble wrote:I take it you interpreted chris' joke as self-depreciating? (namely him being the egg and the long-haired one being a woman) Otherwise, how do you get to the assumption that chris is thinking the stick figure is a girl?
Self deprecating? I don't believe so. The cartoon is gender neutral other than the hair. Put the head of the guy with the black hat in the frame instead of that head with hair, and the meaning would be precisely the same. So would he have then said "Yep, that sounds like a conversation with a black hat man."? However I don't really care, I was pointing out what I consider irony.